NEW YORK — The Memphis Grizzlies set all sorts of franchise records and earned national recognition for their play on the court during the 2021-2022 NBA season, but their standout power forward Jaren Jackson Jr. continued to make a name for himself off the court Monday, when he was named a finalist for the league's Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion Award.
The award, first given to the Knicks' Carmelo Anthony in 2021, is presented to the player that best pursues social justice and advances Abdul-Jabbar’s life mission to engage, empower and drive equality for individuals and groups who have been historically marginalized or systemically disadvantaged.
Jackson Jr. was nominated alongside Dallas Mavericks guard-forward Reggie Bullock, Milwaukee Bucks guard Jrue Holiday, Minnesota Timberwolves center-forward Karl-Anthony Towns and Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet.
The finalists were determined from the pool of team nominees by the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion selection committee, comprised of social justice leaders and members of the NBA.
The winner of the award will receive a $100,000 donation to the social justice organization of their choice, be announced during the Western Conference Finals, the NBA said.
This isn't the first off-court award Jackson Jr. has been nominated for this year.
In December, Jackson Jr. won the NBA Cares Community Assistance award for that month, and was nominated for the season-long award last month. Fan voting for that award ended Saturday.
For the past several years, Jackson Jr. has been focused on advancing health and economic equity in Black and brown communities, creating women empowerment initiatives and increasing voter awareness.
Additionally, Jackson Jr. recently completed his third year as an ambassador for the Nike Game Growers Program, an exclusive opportunity for 7th and 8th grade girls to share their ideas on how to encourage more girls to play sports.
He also sponsored all women-led local organizations for Women’s History Month through the Grizz Ticket Assist Program and covered the cost of the tickets, transportation and snacks for local middle school teams to attend University of Memphis Women’s Basketball games.
Jackson Jr. is also passionate about civic engagement and upon entering the league made it a point to be vocal about being a first-time voter during the 2018 season. Following that, he supported several voting campaigns, including BET’s National Black Voters Day, Tennessee Secretary of State’s, Your Vote Matters Campaign and the Grizzlies’#GrizzVotes Campaign.
Additionally, in November, 2021, he committed $7,500 to assist 13 families in eliminating their overdue housing and utility bills and launched his first social media fundraising campaign to support young Memphians on the rise on Giving Tuesday.
As part of this ‘Much Required’ campaign, he raised nearly $200,000 in one day to add to his personal donation to help support local youth organizations, including Arts Memphis, Girls Inc., Memphis Slim House, Vance Avenue Youth Development Center and Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis.
He has selected Rock the Vote as the recipient of his donation.